Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Selected hymns to St. Tryphon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary

St. Tryphon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary - Commemorated February 1 (http://hram-dimitria.ru/sait/Icon/39.jpg)
Selected hymns to St. Tryphon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary (amateur translations below, unless specified)

Idiomelon of the Litia in the First Tone
Arraying yourself with strength of mind, O glorious one, you counted the tortures of the godless as nothing, and you stood steadfast to the end. Being enlightened in mind through the divine Spirit, you reproached the most-lawless Akylinos, and proclaimed Christ as God with boldness, and kept His Orthodox Faith, and now in the heavens, you receive the prayers and doxologies that your servants offer ceaselessly to the Holy Trinity, and you intercede on behalf of those who honor your sacred memory with faith and fervor.
Doxastikon of the Litia in the Plagal of the First Tone
Come, all those who love the martyrs, let us rejoice in the all-pure feast of the Champion, and let us feast spiritually. Today this honored festival of the Great Martyr Tryphon calls us to a table that is set by his struggles, and to the all-praised treasury of his relics, which pour forth healings as waves, to those who faithfully approach them, and from them flow healing of souls and bodies, and deliverance from dangers, and the great mercy.
Doxastikon of the Aposticha in the Plagal of the First Tone
Today the honored feast of the Champion of Christ has dawned, enlightening the hearts of the faithful, and driving away the dark clouds of the demons. Through the grace and energy of the Spirit, let all who love martyrs cry out: Hail, you who were shown for the faithful to be a God-given and inexhaustible food. Hail, shield of the King, that has deposed the demons through the healing operation of the Spirit. Therefore, deliver us from our enemies from Hagar, those terrible tyrants, through your fervent and constant prayer to God Who loves man, O all-blessed Tryphon. As you now stand before Him, do not cease to intercede that we be delivered from dangers, and that we be granted the good things of life, for those who honor your all-sacred memory in faith.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
You endured the pains of torturers, having truly inherited the life without pain, O all-honored Tryphon, the foundation of Champions. Therefore, today the Church of Christ celebrates your all-holy memory, and rejoices in a godly manner.
The Martyrdom of St. Tryphon (http://days.pravoslavie.ru/jpg/im4001.jpg)
Kontakion - Tone 8
By the power of the Trinity you destroyed polytheism to the ends of the earth, and you were honored by Christ, all-glorious Tryphon; having conquered tyrants through Christ the Savior, you received your crown of martyrdom and the gift of divine healing, for you are invincible.
A holy table is prepared today, all who love feasts, bringing the Pre-festal symbols, of the Lord forty-days old from His awesome birth from the Virgin, and He is held in the arms of the righteous Presbyter [Symeon], along with the memorial of the sacred Champion, for on behalf of him, Christ made him victorious, as the invincible.
On the first of this month, the Memory of St. Tryphon the Great Martyr.
What of you Tryphon? You have reached death by sword.
Is this the time of your end? Not at all.
On the first of February, Tryphon dies by beheading.
Doxastikon of the Praises in the Plagal of the Second Tone
You truly showed to all, O all-famed Martyr Tryphon, that you were prudent with the height of humility, (and the demon flees meekness) and you heal every sickness and infirmity, as you raise to heaven without a ladder, imparting the immortal food that is your namesake. And the shepherd of geese has become an athlete of the heavenly mansions, as he now stands before the throne of Christ God. Do not cease to shepherd our lives, and ceaselessly entreat Him, that we be delivered from dangers, and from the godless tyrants that arm themselves against us, and bring down everyone's sword, for those who hymn in fervor your holy and all-honored memory.
Let us the faithful praise Tryphon, the Great Martyr of Christ, that through his intercessions to the Lord, we be delivered from every evil.
St. Tryphon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary (http://sobor-shop.ru/UserFiles/Image/img336_67317_big.jpg)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Excerpt from the Encomium to Sts. Cyrus and John by St. Sophronios Patriarch of Jerusalem

Sts. Cyrus and John the Holy Unmercenaries and Martyrs (http://pravicon.com/sv-1149, http://pravicon.com/sv-928)
Excerpt from the Encomium to Sts. Cyrus and John by St. Sophronios Patriarch of Jerusalem (amateur translation)
Others have praised other saints, triumphing in their gifts for many days, and in many ways preaching their works. They have raised exalted churches, they have adorned them with different forms of marble, while others have formed golden mosaics, and others have painted joyous icons, and others have gilded with gold and silver...and all have done so to honor and praise the martyrs in a thousand ways, as each is able and desires. They wish to offer to them their victories through them, and to show the care that they feel towards them, and they partook of unfading things instead of corruptible, instead of the things of this life, the things that have no end; the people praise these glorious ones whom they love, and offer them gifts out of habit. We, however, find that the word is more precious than natural materials, for it comes from the natural tongue, but proceeds from the spirit, which therefore flows as a stream unspoken; let us praise the saints in this way. He who therefore rejoices in the martyrs, takes refuge in the Word of God, Who made them martyrs. So it is worthy to celebrate their feast, we who have been greatly benefited from their grace, entreating them to open our mouth, that they might receive from us our gift offered to them...
Let us therefore praise the perfect among martyrs, and offer words of joy to those who listen. The faithful skip, seeing the ways of Cyrus being praised, and the mass of the pious ones praise John, learning of his encomium. From the Gospels and from the words of the Lord, which were first offered to the apostles, comes the praise of the martyrs Cyrus and John, and we say to them: You are the light of the world, and the salt of the earth, O thrice-blessed ones, and the light to those in darkness and the salt that does not loose its potency, and the light that is not extinguished and the salt that is not thrown out, the sleepless light and the salt that is not trampled upon, the light that is ever seen and the salt that is ever effective, the light of everything sweet and the salt beloved by all things...the light of godly-knowledge and salt fashioned from love of God, light that dissolves the darkness and salt that gives flavoring to food, light that illumines the dark things and salt that makes pleasant unpleasant things, light that reveals things that were lost and salt which seasons things. O holy band, through whom the Divine works wonders! For truly “God is wondrous among His saints”. O band of martyrs, through whom the world rejoices! O band of righteous ones, through whom life is renewed! O band of holy ones, through whom the faith is preserved! O band of praised ones, through whom the faithful are magnified! O band of zealous ones, through whom error is destroyed! O band of powerful ones, through whom we are delivered from the devil! O band of soldiers, through whom the demons are banished to perdition! O band of pious ones, through whom the idols are drowned! Hail, O band truly holy, and presence of God, who confirm the age to come to men. Hail, O precious band, you who were heavenly without leaving the earth. Hail O holy band, you who rejoice with the angels and give help to men. You are truly worthy to hear from the Savior, Who praises and cries out with a great voice: “You are the light of the world and the salt of the earth,” light illuminating from the true light, and salt from that true spring of salt, and light that illumines those who take refuge in you, and spring that continuously flows for those who praise you.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Akathist to St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr of Rome

Jesus Christ, depicted with St. Paraskevi the Great Righteous Virgin Martyr of Rome (July 26) (http://www.mlahanas.de/Greece/Arts/AngelosAkotantos/ChristParaskevi.jpg)
Please note that the meter of this translation is not set to match the original music.
For the life of St. Paraskevi, see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/07/st-paraskevi-great-martyr-of-rome.html.
Akathist to St. Paraskevi the Great Righteous Virgin Martyr of Rome
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As the Lord’s grace-flowing nun, and His fervent apostle and Martyr, we praise you with triumphant hymns, and we praise your memory most tunefully, sprinkling flowers and crying:
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
Hymns I offer to you the beauty of virgins, O chaste Paraskevi, martyr of Christ (3). For you struggled boldly, and you enlighten and shine with the rays of wonders on those who hymn you, and we offer you hymns with fervor:
Rejoice, child of pious faithful,
Rejoice, dear throne of God.
Rejoice, beautiful-voiced trumpet of love,
Rejoice, pure servant of the Virgin.
Rejoice, for from above you cover the Orthodox from blows,
Rejoice, you who cease the tears and groans of mortals.
Rejoice, for you are the protection of eyes,
Rejoice, for you rejoiced in the monastic path.
Rejoice, for you deposed the boasting of the enemy,
Rejoice, you who were victorious through Christ’s power.
Rejoice, divine adornment of Rome,
Rejoice, speedy healer of wounds.
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

Being the root from the divine prayer of your parents, Agathon and Politia watered you with the streams of piety. And you, O comely Virgin, flourished as a tree, as those who gave birth to you rejoiced in your grace, and chanted to the Lord: Alleluia.

St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr (http://www.sakketosaggelos.gr/Article/800/)
Laughter and boldness, the streams of perdition, did not come near your soul, O Godly-minded one, but you spoke with the sacred virgins, and spent your time studying the Scriptures, becoming for us an example, for those who piously cry out:
Rejoice, most grace-endowed soul,
Rejoice, our most beloved righteous one.
Rejoice, nourishment of Orthodox asceticism,
Rejoice, heroism and worth of the calling.
Rejoice, divine seal of sacred missions,
Rejoice, boast and seal of the angelic life.
Rejoice, youth honored by God,
Rejoice, the ceasing of idol worship.
Rejoice, you who takes the honor from the false god,
Rejoice, joy of those who every cry out:
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

You were not at all conquered by the glories of this life, O pure Christ-bearer Paraskevi, but taking hope in the life above, you perceived the things of life as refuse joyfully, and were enriched with divine things, and cried out to God in fervor: Alleluia.

St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr, holding her head that was severed for Christ (http://apantaortodoxias.blogspot.com/2012/02/blog-post_7613.html)

Following the words of your Incorruptible Bridegroom, the divine passing of your parents you perceived as a divine call, and you distributed your wealth to the poor, who praise your philanthropy, and cry out with all reverence:
Rejoice, you who were filled with the wisdom from above,
Rejoice, soul of godly monasticism.
Rejoice, nightingale singing praise of the Most-high,
Rejoice, you who bestow grace on monastics.
Rejoice, you who imparted your joy upon your brethren,
Rejoice, you who possess incorruptible treasuries in the Heavens.
Rejoice, for you showed manliness in trials,
Rejoice, for you dissipate the cloud of error.
Rejoice, greatly-victorious one on the road of the Martyrs,
Rejoice, lamp which shines with light of purity.
Rejoice, container that leads towards the Lord,
Rejoice, rays of the supernatural life.
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

Being zealous for the things of Heaven, you locked yourself in a Convent, O most noble champion Paraskevi, for you submitted your wise mind, and joyfully struggled with ascetical pains, worshiping the Lord, and crying out with bitter hymns: Alleluia.

St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr of Rome (http://www.saintparaskevi.com/images/icon.jpg)
You were raised by divine grace to the heights of love, desiring the crown of martyrdom, and having sought the blessing of your Superior, you spoke the word of the Lord and dispelled error for many people, who now hymn you:
Rejoice, dawn of consolation,
Rejoice, harp of divine knowledge.
Rejoice, you who shared the name of the Wise Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13),
Rejoice, you who spoke with the spotless Angels.
Rejoice, you who embraced the angelic Schema with fervor,
Rejoice, protection and foundation of those who honor you with faith.
Rejoice, you who heard unspeakable voices,
Rejoice, you who were made worthy of the honor of the age to come.
Rejoice, all-fragrant lyre of the faithful,
Rejoice, salve for our eyes.
Rejoice, music of divine love,
Rejoice, breath of unsleeping worship.
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

You walked the God-traced path of the Apostles, as another Protomartyr Thekla, and passed through the land of the Romans, and the cities of the Greeks, as an all-precious doe, preaching Christ fervently, and crying out with longing: Alleluia.
When Antoninos learned of your way Equal-to-the-Apostles, he placed a flaming helmet upon you, but through the will of the Lord, you were preserved utterly unharmed and remained pure, while all the faithful who beheld this, cried out victoriously words such as these:
Rejoice, divine doe of the flock of Christ,
Rejoice, for your fragrance was as pure nard (John 12:3).
Rejoice, teacher of blessing and mindfulness,
Rejoice, sweetest apostle of the Savior.
Rejoice, for your words were preached by pure lips,
Rejoice, for you imparted your experience to ascetics.
Rejoice, for you are the worker of peace,
Rejoice, for you are the protector of those endangered.
Rejoice, catechesis of the holy faithful,
Rejoice, disappearance of the false gods.
Rejoice, aloe of Orthodox manliness,
Rejoice, reproach of the evil heart.
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

Demonic waves and unbearable blows, you endured, O much-suffering Lady, for the tyrants sought to burn you, and to break the chain of your faith, but you stood as an unshakable divine statue of Christ, saying: Alleluia.

Shining with your wonders, the choir of those who believed through you were brought to the flock of Christ, enraging the Emperor, who became short of breath through his many tortures, and now these radiant Dwelling-places cry out these in gratitude:
Rejoice, pure and comely martyr of Christ,
Rejoice, our map and canon.
Rejoice, you who ridiculed the false gods,
Rejoice, you who shattered the faces of idols.
Rejoice, all-sacred nun, humble and dedicated,
Rejoice, all-fragrant rose, and seal of the soul.
Rejoice, for you endured ascetical pains,
Rejoice, for you also trouble the swarms of the demons.
Rejoice, dowry to Christ of many talents,
Rejoice, chosen ode of the God of all.
Rejoice, root of the presbyter Rome,
Rejoice, protector of every town and place.
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

Dwelling, as Paul, in prison alone, you were made worthy of the vision of an Angel, who showed you the honored symbols of the passion of Christ, in order to give you courage, O all-wise one, that we might cry unto the ages: Alleluia.

St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr of Rome (Source: www.eikonografos.com)
You are as a precious coin of the church, O Mother, bearing the seal of your Master, for you were tried by fire, and many tortures, O thrice-glorious one, and were not at all altered, as you hear from all these:
Rejoice, seal of sacred graces,
Rejoice, key of uncreated gifts.
Rejoice, for you endured the stretching of your flesh,
Rejoice, for you were steadfast manfully as you were being raked.
Rejoice, for your struggles reached the impassible peak,
Rejoice, Martyr who also shelters desert ascetics.
Rejoice, for you were placed in boiling tar,
Rejoice,for you were divinely kept unharmed.
Rejoice, savior for many in sickness,
Rejoice, you who grant light to the blind.
Rejoice, through whom goodness has come,
Rejoice, through whom magic has disappeared.
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

You were tortured mercilessly, and brutally hung, without your steadfast mind wavering at all, but you cried out to the tyrant: Christ can deliver me from any of your tortures, to Whom I chant fearlessly: Alleluia.

Antoninos' eyes were burned from oil and tar, having asked it of you, but filled with great compassion, you straightaway granted him healing, O Paraskevi, therefore, the ruler who then espoused your faith, cried out:
Rejoice, spring of gifts,
Rejoice, well of healings.
Rejoice, for you won the spoils of the Romans,
Rejoice, for you preached the Sun of love.
Rejoice, divinely-breathed organ that makes glad the faithful,
Rejoice, purest eye that looks against the enemies.
Rejoice, you who bless those who hymn your many blessings,
Rejoice, you who conquer the opposing swarms.
Rejoice, sacred and genuine personage,
Rejoice, soul arrayed in light.
Rejoice, faithful honor and worth,
Rejoice, fragrance to men from Heaven.
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

Before your end, they placed a heavy stone upon your chest, O Martyr Paraskevi, while Jesus appeared to you at night, surrounded by light and the radiant ranks of the Angels, and totally healed you. Thus you cried in joy: Alleluia.
With the strength of the Master, you bravely surpassed the weakness of other women. Through the divine Cross and your prayer, you tore apart a fearsome dragon, while all were astonished and cried out triumphantly:
Rejoice, light-bearing nun,
Rejoice, crown-bearing Martyr.
Rejoice, you who were steadfast of soul in terrible dangers,
Rejoice, you who were victorious in beatings and asceticism.
Rejoice, repository of grace, and dwelling of love,
Rejoice, meekness of spirit, and giver of peace.
Rejoice, for you are the trainer of monastics,
Rejoice, for you are the intercessor to the Trinity.
Rejoice, chain of chaste virgins,
Rejoice, deliverer from sinister spirits.
Rejoice, you through whom the dragon was torn apart,
Rejoice, you through whom the governor was astounded.
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

You were worthily granted from Heaven an incorruptible crown, O lady, and the grace of wonders, which were founded upon your virtues, and your many struggles and terrible tortures, from which you blossomed forth and were glorified, as your fellow struggles cried out: Alleluia.
Your all-sacred Skull, O godly-minded one, rests in the Monastery of the Bodiless Powers Petraki, to which we take refuge, Paraskevi, as we all entreat that we find mercy, and healing of vision, as we cry out with fear:
Rejoice, healing of the eyes,
Rejoice, divine stream of wonders.
Rejoice, foundress of the churches that bear your name,
Rejoice, plantress of rose-beds of monastics.
Rejoice, seven-towered castle of those who hope in God,
Rejoice, dew of Hermon that burns up dangers.
Rejoice, for your prayer leads towards harmony,
Rejoice, for your hand heals those in pain.
Rejoice, help for those fervent in faith,
Rejoice, providence that you give to the poor.
Rejoice, vessel of the blessings of God,
Rejoice, flower of joyous fragrance.
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

Water of incorruption is your Holy Water, O Mother, which heals ever sickness. Therefore, we who praise you, hasten to your protection, O Paraskevi, entreating for purification of soul, for those who ceaselessly cry to you: Alleluia.

We are are delivered from the bitter assaults of the demons, O Mother, through the hyssop of your intercessions, and from the visages of false gods, which you threw down to the earth through your unshakable hand, utterly shaming them. In joy we hymn you saying:
Rejoice, moon of those living in nepsis,
Rejoice, trauma of the demons.
Rejoice, astonishment of Orthodox asceticism,
Rejoice, guide of catechesis of the faithful.
Rejoice, for you were offered as a sacred seal,
Rejoice, for you were hung from a peg by your hair.
Rejoice, you who were nailed, for the love of the Lord,
Rejoice, you who bore the weight from the evil doers.
Rejoice, apostle among ascetics,
Rejoice,, all-wondrous one among apostles.
Rejoice, for your members bore indignities,
Rejoice, firewood that accepted burnings.
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

Rejoicing with good cheer, you entered the Bridal Chamber above, O sacred martyr, and fell at the feet of Christ, which you embraced fervently, O all-precious Paraskevi. He placed a crown upon your head, and you cried out: Alleluia.
Nourish me, O Martyr, from your Heavenly Mansions, with the manna of your divine love, that I may cry out with my whole heart the sweet and sacred name of Jesus, and proclaiming your grace, O pure one, I cry out in compunction:
Rejoice, outer wall of the faithful,
Rejoice, shield of those who bear your name.
Rejoice, you who saves the inhabitants of Krokou [Kozani],
Rejoice,you who drove back the Germans.
Rejoice, chosen woman of the vale of Tempe,
Rejoice, Martyr who makes the desires of the Bridal chamber disappear.
Rejoice, for you work a multitude of wonders in Rodolivo,
Rejoice, for you deliver from the chaos of the faithless through your intercessions.
Rejoice, surrounding wall of Meteora,
Rejoice, terror to the demons.
Rejoice, you who were enriched with the boldness of Christ,
Rejoice, you who are the protection of those who hymn you.
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

O divine nun, great prize of pious virgins to the Most-high (3) receive this as wild flowers, which we have gathered for you simply, and entreat the divine Trinity for salvation of those who cry with you: Alleluia.

Again, the Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As the Lord’s grace-flowing nun, and His fervent apostle and Martyr, we praise you with triumphant hymns, and we praise your memory most tunefully, sprinkling flowers and crying:
Rejoice, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr of Rome (Source: www.eikonografos.com)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

St. Ephraim the Syrian

St. Ephraim the Syrian - Commemorated on January 28 (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s0815/s0815007.jpg)
Saint Ephraim the Syrian, a teacher of repentance, was born at the beginning of the fourth century in the city of Nisibis (Mesopotamia) into the family of impoverished toilers of the soil. His parents raised their son in piety, but from his childhood he was known for his quick temper and impetuous character. He often had fights, acted thoughtlessly, and even doubted God's Providence. He finally recovered his senses by the grace of God, and embarked on the path of repentance and salvation.

Once, he was unjustly accused of stealing a sheep and was thrown into prison. He heard a voice in a dream calling him to repent and correct his life. After this, he was acquitted of the charges and set free.

The young man ran off to the mountains to join the hermits. This form of Christian asceticism had been introduced by a disciple of St Anthony the Great, the Egyptian desert dweller Eugenius.

St James of Nisibis (January 13) was a noted ascetic, a preacher of Christianity and denouncer of the Arians. St Ephraim became one of his disciples. Under the direction of the holy hierarch, St Ephraim attained Christian meekness, humility, submission to God's will, and the strength to undergo various temptations without complaint.

St James transformed the wayward youth into a humble and conrite monk. Realizing the great worth of his disciple, he made use of his talents. He trusted him to preach sermons, to instruct children in school, and he took Ephraim with him to the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea (in the year 325). St Ephraim was in obedience to St James for fourteen years, until the bishop's death in 338.

After the capture of Nisibis by the Persians in 363, St Ephraim went to a monastery near the city of Edessa. Here he saw many great ascetics, passing their lives in prayer and psalmody. Their caves were solitary shelters, and they fed themselves with a certain plant.

He became especially close to the ascetic Julian (October 18), who was of one mind with him. St Ephraim combined asceticism with a ceaseless study of the Word of God, taking from it both solace and wisdom for his soul. The Lord gave him a gift of teaching, and people began to come to him, wanting to hear his counsel, which produced compunction in the soul, since he began with self-accusation. Both verbally and in writing, St Ephraim instructed everyone in repentance, faith and piety, and he denounced the Arian heresy, which at that time was causing great turmoil. Pagans who heard the preaching of the saint were converted to Christianity.

He also wrote the first Syriac commentary on the Pentateuch (i.e. "Five Books") of Moses. He wrote many prayers and hymns, thereby enriching the Church's liturgical services. Famous prayers of St Ephraim are to the Most Holy Trinity, to the Son of God, and to the Most Holy Theotokos. He composed hymns for the Twelve Great Feasts of the Lord (the Nativity of Christ, the Baptism, the Resurrection), and funeral hymns. St Ephraim's Prayer of Repentance, "O Lord and Master of my life...", is recited during Great Lent, and it summons Christians to spiritual renewal.

From ancient times the Church has valued the works of St Ephraim. His works were read publicly in certain churches after the Holy Scripture, as St Jerome tells us. At present, the Church Typikon prescribes certain of his instructions to be read on the days of Lent. Among the prophets, St David is the preeminent psalmodist; among the Fathers of the Church, St Ephraim the Syrian is the preeminent man of prayer. His spiritual experience made him a guide for monastics and a help to the pastors of Edessa. St Ephraim wrote in Syriac, but his works were very early translated into Greek and Armenian. Translations into Latin and Slavonic were made from the Greek text.

In many of St Ephraim's works we catch glimpses of the life of the Syrian ascetics, which was centered on prayer and working in various obediences for the common good of the brethren. The outlook of all the Syrian ascetics was the same. The monks believed that the goal of their efforts was communion with God and the acquisition of divine grace. For them, the present life was a time of tears, fasting and toil.

"If the Son of God is within you, then His Kingdom is also within you. Thus, the Kingdom of God is within you, a sinner. Enter into yourself, search diligently and without toil you shall find it. Outside of you is death, and the door to it is sin. Enter into yourself, dwell within your heart, for God is there."

Constant spiritual sobriety, the developing of good within man's soul gives him the possibility to take upon himself a task like blessedness, and a self-constraint like sanctity. The requital is presupposed in the earthly life of man, it is an undertaking of spiritual perfection by degrees. Whoever grows himself wings upon the earth, says St Ephraim, is one who soars up into the heights; whoever purifies his mind here below, there glimpses the Glory of God. In whatever measure each one loves God, he is, by God's love, satiated to fullness according to that measure. Man, cleansing himself and attaining the grace of the Holy Spirit while still here on earth, has a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven. To attain to life eternal, in the teachings of St Ephraim, does not mean to pass over from one realm of being into another, but rather to discover "the heavenly," spiritual condition of being. Eternal life is not bestown on man through God's one-sided efforts, but rather, it constantly grows like a seed within him by his efforts, toils and struggles.

The pledge within us of "theosis" (or "deification") is the Baptism of Christ, and the main force that drives the Christian life is repentance. St Ephraim was a great teacher of repentance. The forgiveness of sins in the Mystery of Repentance, according to his teaching, is not an external exoneration, not a forgetting of the sins, but rather their complete undoing, their annihilation. The tears of repentance wash away and burn away the sin. Moreover, they (i.e. the tears) enliven, they transfigure sinful nature, they give the strength "to walk in the way of the the Lord's commandments," encouraging hope in God. In the fiery font of repentance, the saint wrote, "you sail yourself across, O sinner, you resurrect yourself from the dead."

St Ephraim, accounting himself as the least and worst of all, went to Egypt at the end of his life to see the efforts of the great ascetics. He was accepted there as a welcome guest and received great solace from conversing with them. On his return journey he visited at Caesarea in Cappadocia with St Basil the Great (January 1), who wanted to ordain him a priest, but he considered himself unworthy of the priesthood. At the insistence of St Basil, he consented only to be ordained as a deacon, in which rank he remained until his death. Later on, St Basil invited St Ephraim to accept a bishop's throne, but the saint feigned madness in order to avoid this honor, humbly regarding himself as unworthy of it.

After his return to his own Edessa wilderness, St Ephraim hoped to spend the rest of his life in solitude, but divine Providence again summoned him to serve his neighbor. The inhabitants of Edessa were suffering from a devastating famine. By the influence of his word, the saint persuaded the wealthy to render aid to those in need. From the offerings of believers he built a poor-house for the poor and sick. St Ephraim then withdrew to a cave near Edessa, where he remained to the end of his days.
The Dormition of St. Ephraim the Syrian (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s0815/s0815009.jpg)
Troparion - Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance. By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe! Our Father Ephraim, pray to Christ God to save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 2
Ever anticipating the hour of Judgment, you lamented bitterly, venerable Ephraim. Through your deeds you were a teacher by example; therefore, universal Father, you rouse the slothful to repentance.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone (amateur translation)
Bearing the life-giving stream in your soul, you were enriched with fear [of God], and were shown a treasury of compunction, therefore you lead us towards perfect virtues through the great number of your teachings. O Righteous Father Ephraim, entreat Christ God that we be granted the great mercy.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

St. Xenophon the Righteous, and his family

St. Xenophon the Righteous, and his family - Commemorated on January 26 (http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/cf83ceaccf81cf89cf83ceb70187.jpg)
Saint Xenophon, his wife Maria, and their sons Arcadius and John, were noted citizens of Constantinople and lived in the fifth century. Despite their riches and position, they distinguished themselves by their simplicity of soul and goodness of heart. Wishing to give their sons John and Arcadius a more complete education, they sent them off to the Phoenician city of Beirut.

By divine Providence the ship on which both brothers sailed was wrecked. The waves tossed the brothers ashore at different places. Grieved at being separated, the brothers dedicated themselves to God and became monks. For a long time the parents had no news of their children and presumed them to be dead.

Xenophon, however, already quite old, maintained a firm hope in the Lord and consoled his wife Maria, telling her not to be sad, but to believe that the Lord watched over their children. After several years the couple made a pilgrimage to the holy places, and at Jerusalem they met their sons, living in asceticsm at different monasteries. The joyful parents gave thanks to the Lord for reuniting the family.

Sts Xenophon and Maria went to separate monasteries and dedicated themselves to God. The monks Arcadius and John, having taken leave of their parents, went out into the wilderness, where after long ascetic toil they were glorified by gifts of wonderworking and discernment. Sts Xenophon and Maria, laboring in silence and strict fasting, also received from God the gift of wonderworking.
St. Xenophon with his wife and two sons, all depicted as monastics (http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/st-xenophon.jpg)
Troparion - Tone 4
O God of our Fathers, always act with kindness towards us;  take not Your mercy from us, but guide our lives in peace through the prayers of Venerable Xenophon and his family.

Kontakion - Tone 4
You kept vigil in the courts of the Lord with your wife and two children, blessed Xenophon, and you gladly lavished your wealth on the poor. Therefore, you have inherited divine joy.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone (amateur translation)
As a generation blessed by the Lord, made worthy of heavenly glory, you glorified Christ upon the earth ascetically, the Righteous Xenophon, and his wife, along with their holy children, whom we praise, saying with joy: hail, O four-numbered band of the Righteous.
St. Xenophon the Righteous, with his two sons (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s1237/s1237001.jpg)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A miracle of St. Xenia of St. Petersburg

St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, the Fool-for-Christ and Wonderworker (http://days.pravoslavie.ru/Images/im3321.jpg)
The Conversion of a French Man to Orthodoxy
By Maria Biniary
WE follow with an account by a resident of France, who was benefited by the Saint in our days.

A French dentist with a private clinic in Paris was injured in a car accident and had to stay in hospital for a few days.

Roman Catholic by creed, but indifferent to the faith, he watched as the patient next to him, a Russian émigré, would pray in the evenings in the ward, and would laugh behind his back.

Since the Russian’s lengthy prayers were repeated for as many days as he remained there, the dentist saw fit to make fun of the praying man, and he joked around with those from the other rooms.

After that first evening of making fun with the others, it was impossible for him to fall sleep.

Suddenly, the door to the ward opened and a woman appeared, wearing men’s clothing and holding a cane in her hand.
St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, wearing the army jacket of her departed husband (http://stxeniablessed.home.mindspring.com/xenicona.jpg)
She was heading towards his bed. He was startled. Unknown facial features. A sweet, strange face.

“What do you want, lady? I don’t have any change. Who let you in here?”

“I came to tell you,” she said to him, as she lifted her cane, “to stop ridiculing Yuri, who is praying, because you will remain here a long time yet, and will seek his prayers....”

And indeed. Over the following days, he was diagnosed with serious cardiac insufficiency and remained three months in the hospital.

Yuri visited him at one point, and when the Frenchman revealed his vision to him, he began to tell him about St. Xenia and Orthodoxy.

Today, the Frenchman is an active member of the French Orthodox community and Baptized his newborn baby girl with the name Xenia last December, in honor of the Saint and in memory of his miraculous conversion.
(Source: Xριστιανική, No. 515 (829) (9 January 1997), p. 8.(http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/01/miracle-of-saint-xenia-fool-in-france.html))

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, January 20, 2012

St. Euthymios the Great

St. Euthymios the Great - Commemorated on January 20 (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s0731/s0731006.jpg)
Saint Euthymius the Great came from the city of Melitene in Armenia, near the River Euphrates. His parents, Paul and Dionysia, were pious Christians of noble birth. After many years of marriage they remained childless, and in their sorrow they entreated God to give them offspring. Finally, they had a vision and heard a voice saying, "Be of good cheer! God will grant you a son, who will bring joy to the churches." The child was named Euthymius ("good cheer").

St Euthymius' father died soon after this, and his mother, fulfilling her vow to dedicate her son to God, gave him to her brother, the priest Eudoxius, to be educated. He presented the chid to Bishop Eutroius of Melitene, who accepted him with love. Seeing his good conduct, the bishop soon made him a Reader.

St Euthymius later became a monk and was ordained to the holy priesthood. At the same time, he was entrusted with the supervision of all the city monasteries. St Euthymius often visited the monastery of St Polyeuctus, and during Great Lent he withdrew into the wilderness. His responsibility for the monasteries weighed heavily upon the ascetic, and conflicted with his desire for stillness, so he secretly left the city and headed to Jerusalem. After venerating the holy shrines, he visited the Fathers in the desert.

Since there was a solitary cell in the Tharan lavra, he settled into it, earning his living by weaving baskets. Nearby, his neighbor St Theoctistus (September 3) also lived in asceticism. They shared the same zeal for God and for spiritual struggles, and each strove to attain what the other desired. They had such love for one another that they seemed to share one soul and one will.

Every year, after the Feast of Theophany, they withdrew into the desert of Coutila (not far from Jericho). One day, they entered a steep and terrifying gorge with a stream running through it. They saw a cave upon a cliff, and settled there. The Lord, however, soon revealed their solitary place for the benefit of many people. Shepherds driving their flocks came upon the cave and saw the monks. They went back to the village and told people about the ascetics living there.

People seeking spiritual benefit began to visit the hermits and brought them food. Gradually, a monastic community grew up around them. Several monks came from the Tharan monastery, among them Marinus and Luke. St Euthymius entrusted the supervision of the growing monastery to his friend Theoctistus.

St Euthymius exhorted the brethren to guard their thoughts. "Whoever desires to lead the monastic life should not follow his own will. He should be obedient and humble, and be mindful of the hour of death. He should fear the judgment and eternal fire, and seek the heavenly Kingdom."

The saint taught young monks to fix their thoughts on God while engaging in physical labor. "If laymen work in order to feed themselves and their families, and to give alms and offer sacrifice to God, then are not we as monks obliged to work to sustain ourselves and to avoid idleness? We should not depend on strangers."

The saint demanded that the monks keep silence in church during services and at meals. When he saw young monks fasting more than others, he told them to cut off their own will, and to follow the appointed rule and times for fasting. He urged them not to attract attention to their fasting, but to eat in moderation.

In these years St Euthymius converted and baptized many Arabs. Among them were the Saracen leaders Aspebet and his son Terebon, both of whom St Euthymius healed of sickness. Aspebet received the name Peter in Baptism and afterwards he was a bishop among the Arabs.

Word of the miracles performed by St Euthymius spread quickly. People came from everywhere to be healed of their ailments, and he cured them. Unable to bear human fame and glory, the monk secretly left the monastery, taking only his closest disciple Dometian with him. He withdrew into the Rouba desert and settled on Mt. Marda, near the Dead Sea.
In his quest for solitude, the saint explored the wilderness of Ziph and settled in the cave where David once hid from King Saul. St Euthymius founded a monastery beside David's cave, and built a church. During this time St Euthymius converted many monks from the Manichean heresy, he also healed the sick and cast out devils.

Visitors disturbed the tranquillity of the wilderness. Since he loved silence, the saint decided to return to the monastery of St Theoctistus. Along the way they found a quiet level place on a hill, and he remained there. This would become the site of St Euthymius' lavra, and a little cave served as his cell, and then as his grave.

St Theoctistus went with his brethren to St Euthymius and requested him to return to the monastery, but the monk did not agree to this. However, he did promise to attend Sunday services at the monastery.

St Euthymius did not wish to have anyone nearby, nor to organize a cenobium or a lavra. The Lord commanded him in a vision not to drive away those who came to him for the salvation of their souls. After some time brethren again gathered around him, and he organized a lavra, on the pattern of the Tharan Lavra. In the year 429, when St Euthymius was fifty-two years old, Patriarch Juvenal of Jerusalem consecrated the lavra church and supplied it with presbyters and deacons.

The lavra was poor at first, but the saint believed that God would provide for His servants. Once, about 400 Armenians on their way to the Jordan came to the lavra. Seeing this, St Euthymius called the steward and ordered him to feed the pilgrims. The steward said that there was not enough food in the monastery. St Euthymius, however, insisted. Going to the storeroom where the bread was kept, the steward found a large quantity of bread, and the wine casks and oil jars were also filled. The pilgrims ate their fill, and for three months afterwards the door of the storeroom could not be shut because of the abundace of bread. The food remained undiminished, just like the widow of Zarephath's barrel of meal and cruse of oil (1/3 Kings 17:8-16).

Once, the monk Auxentius refused to carry out his assigned obedience. Despite the fact that St Euthymius summoned him and urged him to comply, he remained obstinate. The saint then shouted loudly, "You will be rewarded for your insubordination." A demon seized Auxentius and threw him to the ground. The brethren asked Abba Euthymius to help him, and then the saint healed the unfortunate one, who came to himself, asked forgiveness and promised to correct himself. "Obedience," said St Euthymius, "is a great virtue. The Lord loves obedience more than sacrifice, but disobedience leads to death."

Two of the brethren became overwhelmed by the austere life in the monastery of St Euthymius, and they resolved to flee. St Euthymius saw in a vision that they would be ensnared by the devil. He summoned them and admonished them to abandon their destructive intention. He said, "We must never admit evil thoughts that fill us with sorrow and hatred for the place in which we live, and suggest that we go somewhere else. If someone tries to do something good in the place where he lives but fails to complete it, he should not think that he will accomplish it elsewhere. It is not the place that produces success, but faith and a firm will. A tree which is often transplanted does not bear fruit."

In the year 431, the Third Ecumenical Council was convened in Ephesus to combat the Nestorian heresy. St Euthymius rejoiced over the affirmation of Orthodoxy, but was grieved about Archbishop John of Antioch who defended Nestorius.

In the year 451 the Fourth Ecumenical Council met in Chalcedon to condemn the heresy of Dioscorus who, in contrast to Nestorius, asserted that in the Lord Jesus Christ there is only one nature, the divine (thus the heresy was called Monophysite). He taught that in the Incarnation, Christ's human nature is swallowed up by the divine nature.

St Euthymius accepted the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon and he acknowledged it as Orthodox. News of this spread quickly among the monks and hermits. Many of them, who had previously believed wrongly, accepted the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon because of the example of St Euthymius.

Because of his ascetic life and firm confession of the Orthodox Faith, St Euthymius is called "the Great." Wearied by contact with the world, the holy abba went for a time into the inner desert. After his return to the lavra some of the brethren saw that when he celebrated the Divine Liturgy, fire descended from Heaven and encircled the saint. St Euthymius himself revealed to several of the monks that often he saw an angel celebrating the Holy Liturgy with him. The saint had the gift of clairvoyance, and he could discern a person's thoughts and spiritual state from his outward appearance. When the monks received the Holy Mysteries, the saint knew who approached worthily, and who received unworthily.

When St Euthymius was 82 years old, the young Sava (the future St Sava the Sanctified, December 5), came to his lavra. The Elder received him with love and sent him to the monastery of St Theoctistus. He foretold that St Sava would outshine all his other disciples in virtue.

St. Euthymios the Great, St. Anthony the Great, and St. Sabbas the Sanctified (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s0731/s0731001.jpg)
When the saint was ninety years of age, his companion and fellow monk Theoctistus became grievously ill. St Euthymius went to visit his friend and remained at the monastery for several days. He took leave of him and was present at his end. After burying his body in a grave, he returned to the lavra.

God revealed to St Euthymius the time of his death. On the eve of the Feast of St Anthony the Great (January 17) St Euthymius gave the blessing to serve the all-night Vigil. When the service ended, he took the priests aside and told them that he would never serve another Vigil with them, because the Lord was calling him from this earthly life.

All were filled with great sadness, but the saint asked the brethren to meet him in church in the morning. He began to instruct them, "If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15). Love is the highest virtue, and the bond of perfectness (Col. 3:14). Every virtue is made secure by love and humility. The Lord humbled Himself because of His Love for us and became man. Therefore, we ought to praise Him unceasingly, especially since we monks have escaped worldly distractions and concerns."

"Look to yourselves, and preserve your souls and bodies in purity. Do not fail to attend the church services, and keep the traditions and rules of our community. If one of the brethren struggles with unclean thoughts, correct, console, and instruct him, so that he does not fall into the devil's snares. Never refuse hospitality to visitors. Offer a bed to every stranger. Give whatever you can to help the poor in their misfortune."

Afterwards, having given instructions for the guidance of the brethren, the saint promised always to remain in spirit with them and with those who followed them in his monastery.St Euthymius then dismissed everyone but his disciple Dometian. He remained in the altar for three days, then died on January 20, 473 at the age of ninety-seven.

A multitude of monks from all the monasteries and from the desert came to the lavra for the holy abba's burial, among whom was St Gerasimus. The Patriarch Anastasius also came with his clergy, as well as the Nitrian monks Martyrius and Elias, who later became Patriarchs of Jerusalem, as St Euthymius had foretold.

Dometian remained by the grave of his Elder for six days. On the seventh day, he saw the holy abba in glory, beckoning to his disciple."Come, my child, the Lord Jesus Christ wants you to be with me."

After telling the brethren about the vision, Dometian went to church and joyfully surrendered his soul to God. He was buried beside St Euthymius. The relics of St Euthymius remained at his monastery in Palestine, and the Russian pilgrim igumen Daniel saw them in the twelfth century.

Troparion - Tone 4

Rejoice, O barren wilderness! And be glad, sterile desert, that has never known the travail of birth! The man of desires has multiplied your sons; he has planted them in faith and piety. he has watered them with the Holy Spirit: they grow in self-denial and perfect virtue. Through his intercessions, O Christ God, preserve Your people in peace!

Kontakion - Tone 8

The wilderness rejoiced at your birth, holy father Euthymius. In your memory, it brings a harvest of joy through your many miracles. Pour these wonders on our souls as well and cleanse us from our sins,
That we may sing: Alleluia!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!